First, let me clarify that when I say “women in the church” I do not literally mean females attending Sunday services, but rather, women in positions of pastoral leadership or directive positions within a church organization.
In my mind, I’ve always placed this topic in the same category as other controversial issues, such as homosexuality or creationism versus evolution. Is homosexuality a sin or not? Is the earth 6,000 years old or 6,000,000? Should women be allowed the lead in the church? Whenever someone asks me one of these questions, I always give them the same answer. “I don’t know for sure…”
I know this probably causes many conservative Christians to writhe with injustice and many non-religious folks to roll their eyes at me for dodging the question, but let me explain, because that is not where my answer ends. I start by admitting my ignorance, but then I’m always sure to include two things.
One, I am well aware of the verses in scripture that seem to support the argument for women remaining “silent” in the church. (1 Timothy 2:12, 1 Corinthians 14:34, ect.) However, I am no theologian, and therefore, I cannot say with confidence that I completely understand the context, time period, and intended audience in which such words were written by Paul, Timothy, and others. Furthermore, if there are any readers out there who do use such verses as support for their arguments, I would encourage you, if you have not already done so, to perform the proper research so as to understand this context and original audience. I don’t know what you will or will not find, but I do believe that it’s important to do so. Taken out of context, one can use the Bible to support anything in the world, so we must be careful.
Two, whether women in church leadership is permissible or not, I can say with confidence that many of the voices that have spoken to me on my spiritual walk, many of those voice have been female. If I removed every single woman, whether she was a leader in the church or a mother of a friend, who spoke into my life and helped lead me down the path toward Christ, I certainly would not be where I am today.
So what is the role of “women in the church?” Unfortunately, I cannot give you a straight answer. God can though, and I’m sure He will when we meet Him someday. As for today, all I can say is I’m extremely grateful for the way God has used the women in my life, and for all of the ways He has revealed Himself through them. That is the most honest answer I can give.